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Who was Étienne III Goyon ?

Who was Étienne III Goyon, Lord of Matignon and the Roche Goyon ?

"Étienne III Goyon devant son château de la Roche Goyon" Andrews Masbath

Étienne III Goyon, also known as the Lord of Matignon, was a historical figure in medieval Brittany, born in 1290 and died in 1362. His life is marked by his numerous achievements as a knight, lord of significant lands, and the builder of an iconic castle. In this article, we will explore the biography and legacy of Étienne III Goyon.

Youth and Family

Étienne III Goyon was born in 1290 in Brittany. He was the son of Bertrand Goyon, sire of Matignon, and Jeanne, lady of La Roche-Derrien Clisson. He had two brothers, Pierre and Philippe Goyon. His birth into the House of Goyon, a noble family in the region, destined him to play a significant role in the affairs of Brittany.

Carte de la seigneurie des Matignon

Marriages and Descendants

In 1320, Étienne III married Jeanne Paynel, Lady of Launay in Ploubalay, the daughter of Guillaume V Paynel, Lord of Hambye, and Marguerite d'Avaugour. This marriage gave birth to their first child, Alain III Goyon (1320-1368), who would inherit the lordship of Matignon and La Roche Goyon. In 1325, Étienne III married another Jeanne, this time from Launay, with whom he had a daughter named Marguerite Goyon de Matignon (born in 1326).

Arbre généalogique de la Famille Paynel de Normandie, extrait du site ©2004 ÉTIENNE PATTOU

His descendants were significant, totaling four children: Alain III Goyon, Marguerite Goyon, Adelice Goyon, and Renée Goyon. This offspring would continue to play a continuous role in the history of Brittany and the House of Goyon.

Achievements and Legacy

One of Étienne III Goyon's most remarkable achievements was his contribution to the architecture of the region. He is believed to have been the initial builder of the oldest part of the Roche Goyon fortress, which would later become known as castle La Latte. This construction was likely commissioned by Charles de Blois at the beginning of the War of the Breton Succession, with the purpose of monitoring the Bay of Fresnay and controlling maritime movements.

Le château de la Roche Goyon

Photographie d'une peinture du château sur une plinthe en bois au château de Thorigny - Collection © château de la Roche Goyon

The only image of the Château de la Roche Goyon before its renovations in 1690 is drawn from the painted plinths of the Château des Matignon in Torigny-sur-Vire.

He was the captain of Chatel-Jugon and one of the main supporters of Charles de Blois and his wife Jeanne. To reward him for the great services he had rendered to them, they granted him, in addition to 100 livres of life annuity, the domain of Ville-Hamon located in the parish of "Ploeduval."

In the charter of February 20, 1341, which contains this grant, he is referred to as "our dear and beloved cousin and loyal bachelor Monsieur Estieuble Goyon, sire of Matignon."

"Know all that we, Charles, Duke of Brittany, and we, Johanne, Duchess, by our authority... considering the good and agreeable services that our dear and beloved cousin and loyal bachelor Monsieur Estieuble Goyon, sire of Matignon, has rendered to us, the pains and efforts, and the good care and diligence he has put into assisting and advising us in guarding and defending our duchy, etc. Have granted to the said Monsieur Estieuble and to his heirs as a final and perpetual heritage, in addition to the hundred livres of life annuity that we have granted to him, of which he has our letters, the following things, first, the domain of Ville Hameon, that is to say, the holding of Estieuble le Louer, the holding of Ollivier Voillon, the holding of Berthelot Voillon, the holding of Geffroy Ruellou, and Jehan des Loes and their associates, etc. Also, the woods of Ville Hameon, etc. in the parish of Pledunou, etc. to hold from us and our successors in noble and loyal fee, as a noble man should hold his noble fiefs from his liege lord, etc. Given under our seals on the twentieth day of February, in the year MCCCXLI.

Signed, By Monseigneur, present Monsieur Herve de Leon. E. le Noir. Sealed with two seals under which is written: Record of this grant."

(Note: The text appears to be a historical document describing the grant of the domain of Ville-Hamon to Monsieur Estieuble Goyon, sire of Matignon, by Charles, Duke of Brittany, and Johanne, Duchess, in 1341.)

Etienne III Goyon avec un lion et le blason aux merlettes
Sceau Étienne III Goyon

The seal of Étienne III Goyon by Andrews Masbath, based on the seal reproduced by Dom Lobineau under number CCXLVI in his Seals of Brittany, Rennes Library, number 422 in a fake folio collection without a date.

Religious Commitment

In 1338, he granted franchises to the fairs and markets of Matignon for the vassals of the Abbey of Saint-Jacut, demonstrating his commitment to the economic development of his region. He also founded two chapels in Matignon, showing his religious piety.

Étienne III Goyon was not only a builder and businessman but also played a political and military role as the governor captain of the Castle of Jugon.

Involvement in the War of Succession in Brittany

During the War of Succession in Brittany in 1353, he was sent as an ambassador by Duchess Jeanne de Penthièvre to negotiate the release of her husband Charles de Blois-Châtillon, the claimant to the Duchy of Brittany. He was a staunch supporter of Charles de Blois, demonstrating himself as a man deeply involved in the political affairs and alliances of his time. His loyalty to Duchess Jeanne and Charles de Blois made him a key player in the negotiations and alliances of the era.

estienne Gouyon et Allis Pesnel 1379 extrait de "Histoire du maréchal de Matignon"

Image Extrait de l'arbre généalogique des Goyon Matignon dans le livre "Histoire du Mareschal de Matignon' De Cailliere Paris 1661

Conflicts and Legacy

He is referred to as a Knight in two deeds, the first on the Tuesday after Trinity in 1339, when he founded a chaplaincy in the church of Matignon, and the second dated on Thursday with the feast of Saint Andrew in the year 1342 for the foundation of another chaplaincy in the same place.

A genealogy from Quebec ( does not attribute two wives to Étienne III but rather one, who would be Jeanne Paynel, lady of Launay in Ploubalay (1295-1343).

Confirmed by the charter of the Tuesday after Trinity in 1339, where Étienne, along with his brothers Pierre and Philippe, founded a chaplaincy in the church of Sainte Marie in Matignon, which states: "...Joannæ uxoris meæ, puamdam defunctæ aliæque Pænel nunc uxori meæ..."

Charles de Blois and his wife granted him the domain of Ville Hamon in 1341, calling him "our dear and beloved cousin and loyal bachelor Monsieur Estieuble sire de Matignon."

He is still referred to as a knight in a safe-conduct given on July 13, 1355, at Westminster, by the King of England, to Breton knights entrusted with negotiating the ransom of Charles de Blois.

The grandson of Étienne Goyon, also named Étienne, would become the Admiral of Brittany in 1398.

However, the life of Étienne III Goyon was not without conflicts and intrigues. His loyalty to the House of Penthièvre cost him dearly. As a result, Jean de Montfort stripped him of his lordship of La Roche Goyon.

The Coat of Arms of the Goyon family

Silver shield with a red lion crowned in gold. (seal of 1219)

Blason Goyon D'argent au lion de gueules couronné d'or. (sceau de 1219)

The Coat of Arms of Matignon

Gold shield with two red interlaced horizontal bands, accompanied by nine blackbirds of the same arranged in an orle, 4. 2. 3. This coat of arms is associated with Matignon and can be found in the seal of Étienne III Goyon. It first appeared in 1289 with Bertrand 1st Goyon, one year before the birth of Étienne III Goyon.

D'or à deux fasces nouées de gueules, accompagnées de neuf merlettes de même en orle, 4. 2. 3; qui est Matignon. (sceau de 1289)

The Coat of Arms of the Paynel family, originally from Hambye, Normandy :

Gold shield with two blue horizontal bands, accompanied by ten red birds arranged in an orle. This coat of arms bears a strong resemblance to that of the Matignon family, which is associated with Étienne III Goyon's lineage.

D'or, à deux fasces d'azur, accompagnées de 9 merlettes du même en orle.

Étienne III Goyon, Lord of Matignon and La Roche Goyon, remains an iconic figure of medieval Brittany. His life was marked by his role as a builder, diplomat, and protector of valuable lands. His legacy endures through his architectural achievements and his descendants, who continued to play a role in the history of Brittany and beyond. The life of Étienne III Goyon reflects the complexities and challenges of his time, making him a fascinating figure to study in the context of Breton and French history.

Goyon is one of the oldest Breton families, also known as Gwion, Goion, Gouon, Gouëon, Goyon, and Gouyon.

Sceau Étienne III Goyon

Sources :

° Livre de "Du rocher de La Latte au rocher de Monaco, LES GOUYON MATIGNON, huit siècles d'histoire, leurs juveigneurs, leurs alliances et leurs demeures", aux éditions régionales de l'Ouest, 2007

° Livre le château de la Roche Goyon dit Fort La Latte, imprimerie de la manutention Mayenne, 1973, SEKIJÔ NO SHI (Le maître du lieu, pseudonyme de Frédéric Joüon Des Longrais)

sceau d'Étienne III Goyon

The seal of Étienne III Goyon, as interpreted by Andrews Masbath based on the reproduction made by Dom Lobineau under number CCXLVI in his Seals of Brittany, Bibliothèque de Rennes, number 422, a composite collection in folio without a date, is the only known representation of Étienne III Goyon to date.

This historical seal bears witness to his significance and the era in which he lived.

sceau Étienne III Goyon

The list of individuals, places, and entities mentioned in this chronicle about Étienne III Goyon:


1. Étienne III Goyon

2. Bertrand Goyon (father of Étienne III)

3. Jeanne, dame de La Roche-Derrien Clisson (mother of Étienne III)

4. Pierre Goyon (brother of Étienne III)

5. Philippe Goyon (brother of Étienne III)

6. Jeanne Paynel (first wife of Étienne III)

7. Guillaume V Paynel (stepfather of Étienne III)

8. Marguerite d'Avaugour (stepmother of Étienne III)

9. Alain III Goyon (son of Étienne III)

10. Jeanne de Launay (second wife of Étienne III)

11. Marguerite Goyon de Matignon (daughter of Étienne III)

12. Adelice Goyon (child of Étienne III)

13. Renée Goyon (child of Étienne III)

14. Charles de Blois (ally of Étienne III)

15. Jeanne de Penthièvre (ally of Étienne III)

16. Jean de Montfort (opponent of Étienne III)


1. Brittany (birthplace and location of Étienne III's actions)

2. La Roche Goyon (castle and lordship of Étienne III)

3. Matignon (lordship of Étienne III)

4. Ploubalay (associated with Jeanne Paynel)

5. Hambye (associated with the Paynel family)

6. Chatel-Jugon (castle governed by Étienne III)

7. Ville Hamon (gift from Charles de Blois to Étienne III)


1. House of Goyon (Étienne III's family)

2. House of Paynel (family associated through marriage)

3. Duchy of Brittany (political and territorial context)


1. Goyon Coat of Arms (heraldic symbol of Étienne III)

2. War of the Succession of Brittany (historical context)

These individuals, places, and entities play a significant role in the biography and impact of Étienne III Goyon on the history of medieval Brittany.


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